Love and Peace or Else

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Time to catch up. I will forego my usual preamble which normally goes,’ me so busy, me so busy’. People have actually complained to me, that’s right complained. That I haven’t been

updating the blog. Writing blogs?! I ask you? Whose got time for that? No one, that’s who. I’ve got twenty minutes before I need to go so here goes.

After we returned from our gig in Hartlepool, which included every possible reference to monkeys including a cover of Monkey Man, we were off to the Knockengorroch Festival, somewhere south of Ayr and west of the rest of Europe. It featured an impressive line up including The Herbaliser, Aberfeldy, Nizlopi, Mungo’s HiFi, Son Veneno, some clowns called Big Hand (!) and many others. The weather had been really bad over the weekend apparently. Most of us only arrived on the Sunday around five o clock, just as the rain stopped and the sun came out. Those who had been for the duration, looked cold and a bit miserable. Apparently a number of festival goers had baled by the Sunday. I suppose two days sleeping in a puddle might test the mettle of most music lovers. Can’t say that I blame anyone who did bale. The place was just a sea of mud, great festival conditions in my opinion. I was at a festival once when it was dry and the sun was out the whole time. It was crap. T in the Park I think it was called. I just remember that Pulp were headlining. Says it all.

We took to the main stage just as the sun was setting, perfect timing. Like most festivals, when we went on it wasn’t all that busy as people are spread over the length and breadth of the whole site, but a few tunes in and we definitely had most of the crowd. We played for over two hours and by the end, it was proper nightfall and the whole festival crowd was there to see us. Top marks to everyone who managed to dance for two hours in First World War conditions. One courageous young lady even had her top off for half the set. Fantastic but a little drastic to my mind. We included our famous cover of ‘Trying to Grow a Chin’ by the great Frank Zappa which hadn’t been aired for a while. I sing lead vocals on this one, ostensibly because I am the member of the band with the closest physical resemblance to Frank Zappa. (“It’s my eyes!“, I remember saying.) We don’t usually play covers these days unless we are playing an unusually long set, or as part of an encore or as a special request. I don’t know what it is about Ska bands and covers. I suppose it must stem from the fact that Ska music initially derived from re-workings of classic or traditional tunes, but with that catchy beat behind it. And of course the Two tone era had a heavy reliance on covers. All the great Two Tone bands, in fact, had hits that were covers. When we started gigging back in 98-99, our set was approximately 50/50 covers and originals. We even had reviewers confusing our material with classic Ska tunes (one time a reviewer said that we do an excellent cover version of Dance to Ska!; eh yeah, it is good, some might say definitive!) These days we have so much of our own material we can’t play all the old tunes we used to. Not enough time. On this particular Sunday we did two or three covers. The aforementioned ‘Chin!’ (as Andy calls it), also ‘Inspector Gadget’ which is a cover but also has a rip off of the Ska King Crab version at the beginning. Also ‘Sally Brown’ by the late great Laurel Aitken, which nearly always sneaks into the set at the end, and has been a staple in our set since mediaeval times. I met Laurel Aitken once, when we played with him. He had gold teeth. I expect they’re still gold. We also played ‘Ali Baba’ by John Holt which is a bit of a cigarette break for us, and the audience too obviously. I personally don’t smoke cigarettes so don’t see the need for cigarette breaks, but it does allow Tom to get his flute out. Coincidentally some of us even took the opportunity to actually smoke on the stage, since we were outdoors. All in all a great day. After we came off the lady who was MC, and whose name eludes me, said that we were one of the best bands that they had ever had down here. After being described as a musical highlight, we came back on and played an encore. Check out the festival’s myspace page (www.myspace.com/knockengorroch) for photos of the whole event. Thanks to everyone there who stayed in spite of the mud, and to the organisers for having us down and all their hospitality. We saw lots of friends from Rum and it was also good to see Uri, Jules, Tamir, and Orren from over in Coldstream.

Back to the Burgh. We keep working in the studio. The first anniversary of this recording approaches and we are all getting cabin fever. Surprisingly no one has quit the band and there have been few major disturbances in the force. Even Colin and I haven’t really fought. We both believe in the McCafferty family motto; ‘Love and Peace or Else’, a sort of Mutually Assured Destruction. Everyone more or less agrees on the approach we have taken so far. Recorded live at first, but then edit the shit out of it so it sounds good, and then multi-track the shit out of what’s left for about a year. The Stevie Wonder method. The trouble is knowing when to stop. We’ve already nearly fell out over whether or not we should have strings on the album. The correct answer is, aye right!

Next gig will be with the elusive, and some say, magical figure of Jerry Dammers doing a DJ set. Some people say he doesn’t really exist. They say he’s this mythical character conjured up to frighten children, like Jeffrey Archer, or Davina McCall. If so, then who was it that formed the Two Tone label, and played in The Specials? We are going to find out soon enough.

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